I didn’t have a ticket, but Budget charged me anyway

By | June 4th, 2014

I’m excited to bring back a weekly feature that probably belongs on every consumer advocacy site: “Is this a scam?” It really needs no introduction. By the way, I’ve also re-launched a related column, That’s Ridiculous!, on our sister site, Consumer Traveler. It’s definitely worth checking out. Here we go …

If you happen to blow through a tollbooth or get a parking ticket in your rental car, you probably know that in addition to paying the fine, your rental company will assess its own processing fee – a charge that, curiously, sometimes exceeds the toll violation or parking fine.

But what if you’re innocent? What if you paid the fine, and can prove it?

Sally Glunt’s husband rented a car from Budget in Long Beach, Calif., late last year. “He got a parking ticket from the City of Long Beach, for street cleaning day by the post office,” she says. “The signage was way down the street — but that’s not the story. He paid the ticket promptly and we received notice the check had been cashed.”

End of story? Not exactly.

She continues,

After that, we noticed a $30 charge from Budget on our credit card.

I contested it through Chase and then received a funky copy of a letter from Budget saying the charge is an ‘administrative fee’ for research and processing costs.

Any questions were referred to a bogus email address. I also called the phone numbers provided, which always went to voicemail, and calls were never returned.

She appealed to Budget in writing and received the following response almost six months after her husband’s rental:

Thank you for your email, I am very sorry for the delayed response. We receive a high volume of emails in regards to citations.

The administration fee applies and is part of our policy whenever receiving notification of a citation to one of our vehicles.

Say what?

Do you mean to tell me that Budget will charge you $30 even if you pay the ticket, and can show proof? What the heck?

“This may be a common practice for car rental companies,” says Sally. “But I think it’s unfair.”

She’s doesn’t want anyone else to face the same issue.

I’m done with pursuing this, having gotten the final answer from Budget.

But I don’t agree with it and would love to see some collective pressure on Budget and any other rental companies that unfairly impose a processing fee for something they didn’t have to do anything about.

She wants to know – and so do I – if this is a scam. I can certainly see Budget’s point of view, that it would need to research a ticket like this to see if it’s been paid. But if a rental customer has paid his debt to society, shouldn’t Budget also be as forgiving?

And what’s to stop Budget from “researching” a case that doesn’t have any fines, and simply charging it to a customer?

Also, where exactly does Budget disclose to its customers that it will charge them for researching parking tickets? Even if it does inform travelers, isn’t that kind of fee just a little absurd?

Is Budget's "research" fee a scam?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If Budget gets notification of a ticket it absolutely has to research the ticket to determine the status of the ticket else one day it may find a Denver boot on the car. How does Budget know that you paid the ticket. Who should pay for these additional man and machine resources? There are three possibilities:

    …Budget’s shareholders
    …Budget’s customers
    …The person who got the ticket.

    I got a parking citation in DC once. The fine was listed on the ticket the officer left on the rental car. I specifically paid it the next day so that Budget wouldn’t get a notification of the ticket and charge me the then $25.00 administrative fee. It worked. I was never charged.

  • backprop

    As a hypothetical, not that it helps the OP: Does Budget allow the customer to proactively leave proof of payment of the ticket at the point of rental return, to go into the rental history, making future “research” unnecessary?

  • sdir

    She contested it through Chase, did Chase deny the claim based on Budget’s response? I’m curious, because I would expect her credit card company to stand behind her with proof and that they too would question the ethics of charging for “research” of something that was clearly paid.

  • Blackadar

    Simply put, I’d charge it back. Budget has no business trying to charge you an admin fee for a parking ticket you already paid.

  • John Baker

    I was going to essentially write the same thing. Based on the poll, it looks like we’re in the minority… Ah well

  • BillCCC

    This is a consumer advocate site. Most people believe that any charge above the minimum is a scam. It was not helped by the the misleading title of the story. The OP actually did have a ticket which was the reason Budget charged the fee.

  • omgstfualready

    Isn’t this in the rental agreement? It’s been some time since I’ve rented a vehicle but I do recall seeing this and making a mental note (I was in Vegas if that matters).

  • rwm

    Hmmm…I got a parking ticket once on a rental car. I paid it fairly promptly (within a week), and I never got charged any fee from the rental company.

  • Don Cheedle

    You receive a ticket and then promptly pay. Budget or whichever rental car company needs to make sure the ticket was paid which takes man hours. Someone has to pay for those man hours.

    What I would like to know is if Chris contacted any of the rental car companies to ask how many tickets their cars receive per year and in which cities? How many of them are paid by the renter before receiving notice from the rental car company? How many are not paid until a notice is sent to the renter, also providing proof ala a red light camera photo or snapshot of the license plate, etc..? How many are never paid, the renter has gone AWOL, cancelled their credit card, and the company is required to eat the charge?

    Some numbers on how much the industry has to spend fighting asshole renters who don’t take care of their responsibilities might paint an even picture on why the OP is asked to pay $30.

  • Don Cheedle

    That would be a good idea. If customers proactively provided documentation that things have been sorted, then one good faith effort can be met with another in no fee. Just have to hope people aren’t sending in forged documents and ruin the system.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Budget wouldn’t know its been clearly paid for until they received it received the ticket and confirmed payment with the local authority. Her paying the ticket did not actually reduce Budget’s workload.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Same Here. That makes me wonder how promptly did the LW pay the ticket. My experience, is that the ticket is viewable online within a few days and can be paid almost immediately. And if you do so, no letter comes to you.

  • paz5559

    If the ticket was paid in a timely manner, Budget would never receive notice of the violation in the first place. As a result, they would never have any reason to research the issue, because there is, in fact, no issue to research.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    In fairness, I might have voted with the majority. But after running my own business, I quickly realized that things have decisions have costs associated with them, and every instance of the practice absorbing an extra cost simply meant less money for me.

    So, if the customer’s actions impose a cost on the business, I generally feel that that customer should be the one to pay, not the business, and not the other customers in terms of higher prices.

  • $16635417

    The OP got a ticket. Budget received notice of that ticket. Budget had to research the status of the ticket. Who SHOULD pay for that time?

  • omgstfualready

    This is in their online Q&A. I can’t paste it here but if you google Budget Rental Agreement Violation it comes as the first result. On that site you’ll find the question shown as:

    Who is responsible for parking, tolls, and moving traffic violations?

    Answer: You are responsible for payment of any parking, toll, or moving traffic violations along with a reasonable administrative fee, so please drive carefully and observe all ordinances.

  • omgstfualready

    It’s in the agreement that the OP signed to rent the car.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Edited. I misread your post.

    I guess you could do that, but the problem remains. If Budget gets a notification, it still has to have an infrastructure to match the notification with the correct renter and someone has to physically review the records to confirm that the proof of payment corresponds to the ticket number that was received. For example, suppose someone got two parking tickets but only left proof of payment for one?

  • Thoroughlyamused

    At the rental company I worked for, if a ticket was taken care of by the customer and they could provide proof of that, we would waive the service fee and of course the cost of the ticket. Even if they didn’t take care of it before it got to us our general practice was to waive the first service fee for customer goodwill.

    That being said, a fee for such things is not inherently inappropriate. I live (and rented cars) in the DC metro area. In central Montgomery County, there is a toll road which has gone cashless: the Intercounty Connector, or MD 200. I remember dealing with one customer who was extremely irate because we charged him several service fees (even after taking care of one) because he drove on MD 200 without an EZ-Pass. He did so multiple times. When I asked him why he didn’t use an EZ-Pass, his response was that he left it in his personal car. It’s worth noting that the guy was from the DC area and used the ICC regularly so it’s not like he wasn’t aware he needed one. In addition, there are multiple signs at the entrance to MD 200 which say, “NO CASH, EZ-PASS ONLY.” It was hard for me to be sympathetic to the guy-especially when he said, “I never gave you guys authorization to charge me those tolls.” So you think you drive on toll roads and expect the rental company to pick up the tab?

    The one area I truly sympathized with renters was Automated Photo Enforcement citations. In Montgomery County, any ticket issued is to the owner of the vehicle, and any kind of adjudication required a court appearance. I personally think automated traffic enforcement is a total scam, but it just wasn’t/isn’t practical to send a company representative to court for every single citation. So, those customers had no due process rights, and whenever they called me to complain I just gave them the number of the head of the county Automated Traffic Enforcement unit.

  • Nigel Appleby

    The problem in the original post, or at least the way I read it, is that the ticket was paid and Budget still got notification. The question really seems to be – how promptly do you have to pay a ticket so that the rental company isn’t notified? Or should the renter send a copy of the ticket and receipt to the rental company to notify them that the ticket has been paid?

  • Chris Johnson

    This was an easy vote. What kind of bullsh– is it to charge a customer that paid the parking ticket on their own and did all the necessary work to get it settled? How does this have any effect on the rental car company? Nothing but another opportunity to collect bogus fees. I would fight this tooth and nail, even if it took more than $ 30 worth of effort. The states should outlaw something like this.

  • Cybrsk8r

    But does it REALLY cost budget $30, for some office grunt to type the citation # into a web-site and see the ticket has been paid. Which takes, what, all of two minutes, maybe? That’s why I think it’s a scam. It’s not the fee, it’s the amount of the fee which makes it a scam.

    BTW, most parking tickets in DC are NOT written by the police. Parking enforcement in DC mostly falls under the DPW (Dept. of Public Works)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I honestly don’t know. When it was me, I paid the next day and no notice was sent. Granted this was DC about 12 years ago. Its been ages since I’ve received a parking ticket. My recollection though is that the notification takes about 3 weeks before it’s sent and you have another several weeks to pay. So I would guess that the LW waited a little while and mailed in the payment. Mailed payments used to take several days to credit. Online would credit in like a day. Perhaps the payment and notification crossed in the mail.

    But regardless, Budget did get a notification. The fact that she’d paid the ticket doesn’t reduce Budget’s workload significantly.

  • flutiefan

    And soda at the movies doesn’t really cost $6 for the employee to load the syrup and push the button. But there are no articles on here blasting the theater chains for their “scam” fees.

  • backprop

    In that case, then the customer would still be responsible. But I’d assume (maybe wrongly) that Budget gets informed of the number of tickets. So if they get informed of one, and the customer established payment of one, it could work out. Then again, it’s probably just easier to charge $30 across the board.

  • Great idea!

  • Thoroughlyamused

    I got a parking ticket in a rental recently. Paid it the next day. Heard nothing from the rental company. How long did she wait?

  • Cybrsk8r

    Your analogy is flawed. You don’t HAVE to buy the overpriced soda at the movie theater. Now if the movie theater REQUIRED you to buy a soda, then you’d have a valid point.

    This also explains why I haven’t been in a movie theater in 15 years. Well, that and the fact that 98% of movies made these days suck.

  • brandsteve

    Why would a gov’t be notifying anyone about a fine which had already been paid immediately and in full? I can see notifying the vehicle’s owner after a fine was NOT paid by the deadline. Therefore I believe this is a scam.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    This is pure speculation on my part.

    I’m envisioning the following scenario. Budget gets a notification that ticket #XYZ has is outstanding in the amount of $50.00. Budget has to have an employee enter either the VIN # or license plate number to determine who rented the car during the appropriate time period. Then, it would have to match the ticket number with the proof of payment, which another employee, at the time of the return, would have had to notate the file correctly. Then Budget would have to notate that a notification was received but no further action needs to be taken.

    All extra time and employee salary. And of course, if the payment was with an NSF check, that’s another level of grief.

    Seems to me by far the best solution would be for the customer who incurred the ticket to pay it immediately, which if you’re providing proof of payment at the time of return, you probably paid the ticket immediately anyway.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    You don’t HAVE to generate unpaid tolls. You don’t HAVE to park illegally and get a ticket. If you do and just assume the rental company will pick up the tab, yeah, you should get hit with a penalty. That obviously is not what happened here, but it did happen regularly when I worked for a rental company.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


    If Budget wasn’t notified by the government, that the LW, or her husband, received the ticket, how exactly would Budget know to charge her the $30 dollars

    I suggest that the prompt is subjective.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    You know by now I usually side with the rental companies but if she paid the ticket by the deadline and can provide proof of that, I don’t think she should have to pay a service fee.

    Service fees, in addition to covering the rental company’s costs, serve as an incentive: don’t break the law in a rental car and if you do, handle it yourself.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Its a fair question. i don’t know how much it costs, but it not just the office “grunt”. Its the computer systems, the IT support, the building that the office grunt is housed, the chair he sits in. When I opened my own office in 2003ish, I was amazed at how much the infrastructure costs.

    Even pens and paper cost money. I knew that, but I didn’t appreciate that supplies means I had to pay for them, not just raid the supply cabinet.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Had the LW paid it soon enough, no notification would have been generated. But since Budget received a notification, it has to spend money. Who should pay for the employee time and infrastructure?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I agree. I actually think that they should waive the fee. I just don’t think its a scam. .

  • Thoroughlyamused


  • Californi Cato

    My rented Budget car received a parking ticket 2 months ago in LA. I paid it when I returned home a week later.

    Thank you for the reminder to go back and check my credit card statements. I’ll post here if anything shows up.

    I rent almost exclusively from Budget through my business’s corporate account (I’m the owner). If there’s a charge and Budget does not choose to reverse it, I will let them know that’s why they lost my business account.

  • Michael__K

    If the renter fails to pays the fine and/or schedule a hearing within the prescribed deadline, then of course an administrative fee is justified.

    However if the renter does act on time, then there shouldn’t be a notice that necessitates any research. If for some reason a notice is issued anyway, we could point the finger of blame at the municipality, but realistically, the cost of that administrative research is a cost of doing business IMO.

    And in my past personal experience with Avis Budget Group, they did treat it as a cost of doing business. When (twice) I received toll notices (renting from Avis), and I provided documentation of payment, the charges were reversed, administrative fees and all(*). And that would have been the right thing to do for the OP as well if he paid on time.

    (*) I did experience, like the OP, considerable difficulty reaching a live human being.

  • EdB

    If the ticket was paid and Budget received notification that it wasn’t, I think the administration fee should be charged to whomever issued the incorrect notification, not the customer. In this type of situation, it’s not the customer who cause Budget to incur extra work, but whoever sent the notification.

  • $16635417

    Only half flawed.

    Yes, you don’t have to buy a soda, but if you wish to have a soda during the movie, you HAVE to buy theirs. You cannot bring in your own.

    In years past, I’ve also been to places that have a two drink minimum. ;) But stories of those places are best retold on a different forum.

  • Extramail

    Then the question becomes: what is a “reasonable administrative fee”?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    So there are two things here. What is the right thing to do and is it a scam, per the poll question.

    As I mentioned earlier, I think they should reverse the fees, but the fee can be justified and is in no way a scam.

  • Extramail

    I’ve finally learned to ask if the rental car comes equipped with the EZ Pay system when renting in Florida. I was shocked the first time driving from Ft. Lauderdale to Ft. Myers. Those toll roads do have cash toll booths which I paid every time I went through one. Then I got my rental car bill and saw that I was charged for having the EZ Pay system on the car and got to pay again, both for the use of their system and the toll charges. Chalked it up to lesson learned because a) I didn’t even know there would be toll roads and b) now know to ask such questions. I was scammed because the clerk could have told me before I left the building that I wouldn’t have to pay the tolls but wasn’t.

  • omgstfualready

    I think the $30 isn’t unreasonable, anything $50 and under would seem reasonable, but like I said I haven’t rented in a long time so who knows. But they were within their right and the OP is wrong to debate it and it certainly is not a ‘scam’.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That would be the municipality or its agent. That’s not an option for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that they’re not part of the contract between Budget and the renter.

  • Daddydo

    I would change gears here. If the ticket was paid, the proof is the cashed check, then I would expect the credit card company to instantly remove the $30.00 charge from Budget. I always use AX for car rentals as they have an excellent reputation for siding with their customers when it comes to stupid charges like this. There was no research necessary. If there was a question, call the customer, they have all the information.

  • Michael__K

    I take the poll question wording with a grain of salt :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That…is very understandable.

  • EdB

    Then why should the renter be dinged for the mistake since the municipality made the mistake? This is assuming the situation where a notice of non-payment was sent in error and may or may not apply in the OP’s case.

  • AJPeabody

    That assumes that the payment is registered into the notification system before the notification is issued. There may be month’s worth of unentered payments sitting in the in box.

  • bodega3

    Those who drive outside their area know these things, but we have to advise many clients of the need for the EZ pay system in places they wish to pick up a car. Even with a message to the car company, this can get overlooked. I have Hertz Gold and when I went to my car in PHL, there was no box on the windshield. I had to go back, stand in line and was given a new car with the box. Not a happy camper with that!

  • Lindabator

    But it doesn’t seem that the OP even let the car rental company know they DID get the ticket – so when they got a notification, they DID have to research it – so in this case, I feel the fee was valid.

  • John Baker

    Because the proximate cause of Budget having to spend the money and do the research is the renter breaking the law.

  • Lindabator

    WHY??? A company can charge anything they feel is right – you might not like it, but that doesn’t make it a scam.

  • Lindabator

    Just because you do not wish to pay, does not mean the credit card company feels like eating the charge — if Budget could show they charged a valid fee, the credit company will deny the claim

  • Lindabator

    Because Budget STILL had to do the work – and this might have been easier on all if she had LET them know she had gotten a ticket in the first place.

  • Lindabator

    Did you let them even know you got the ticket? Or are they supposed to be psychic, and when they DO get a notice, magically KNOW if it was yours? If you run a business, you know full well there are expenditures you cannot just assume on behalf of those who feel no need to inform you when there is a problem.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    An equally valid question is why should Budget bear the cost of dealing with this? At the end of the day, this was caused because the renter broke the law. This is just one of the consequences

  • polexia_rogue

    as i posted before- get their insurance.

    In NJ there was a toll booth that was $5- CASH ONLY. so i told them point blankly- I cannot pay. they took down my licence plate and let me go.

    I was sure enterprise would send me a bill. Online people said it could be as much as $250

    It has been 2 years- no bill or charge to my card.

    ALWAYS get the rental company’s insurance.

  • Dave R

    Assuming the ticket was paid, why is Budget even notified? I don’t know of any municipality that that sends out notices to vehicle owners that says, “Your vehicle got a parking ticket and it has been paid.” Something doesn’t sound quite right.

  • Travelnut

    I had to travel to Frederick, MD in January and rented a car at BWI. The rental agent was good about explaining that if I got on a toll road, I would be charged through Hertz for the toll. Wouldn’t you know it, I did accidentally get on MD-200. What can I say. It was fairly late, the roads were a huge mess due to the heavy snow and ice (which makes this Texas girl a nervous driver), and I didn’t realize that my GPS was taking me on the toll road. I fully expected to get a love letter from Hertz but I never did. Maybe the state of Maryland was being easy on drivers due to the bad weather?

    My opinion – if I get a ticket and I pay for it, it’s a done deal on my end. If the municipality has jacked-up recordkeeping and goes to the rental car company for payment of a ticket that’s already been paid, I fail to see how that is my fault. But seeing as it would be my fault to get the ticket in the first place in a car I did not own, I’d be okay with a reduced fee – $15 rather than $30.

  • $16635417

    I think the assumption is the OP paid the ticket, but the process of the the city sending out notifications was already past the point of no return.

    Budget then got the notification and had to act on it.

  • EdB

    You, Linda, and John seem to be missing the one point in the scenario I am using. Yes, the renter parked illegally but paid the fine. In my scenario, the municipality then makes the error of sending a notification that shouldn’t have been sent. That’s not the renter’s fault so why should they have to pay? They already settled with the municipality. Yes the renter’s action got the incident inserted into the system, but did what they were suppose to to clear it up so no notification should have been sent. Again, it was not the renter who caused the erroneous notification, but the municipality. The renter paid for their error so why should they also have pay for the municipality’s error?

  • Michael__K

    Most of those examples are fixed costs that you have to pay for even if not a single renter incurs a parking ticket.

    I’m pretty sure the research staff size is set ahead of time. If tomorrow there are fewer notices and there’s one hour less research to do, I’m skeptical that the rental company saves a dime. Rather, I suspect the staff members will call back a few more of the customers who left voicemails last week :)

    I also doubt the fee charged represents the average administrative cost. It’s most likely an over-estimate of the average administrative cost. Which would mean that — rightly or wrongly — the customers who are billed legitimately or who elect not to dispute their administrative fees, by design subsidize the customers who successfully dispute their fees.

  • Nathan Witt

    Obviously, operating a busiess has its expenses. But I’d wager that when you send out an invoice to clients, it doesn’t list your hourly fee, and then add on an office fee, employee fee, chair fee, pen fee, paper fee, etc. That’s because you charge your clients what you need to charge to pay your expenses and (presumably) make a profit. The travel industry in particular has been moving to the model where your ticket/room rate/rental rate is their profit, and anything else that has an expense to them is additional. These bother me, at least, because other industries don’t operate that way, and so the fees feel like profiteering, rather than a justifiable part of the cost. This fee may well be warranted, but in an industry rife with them, it’s just another nasty surprise for someone who thinks they’ve done what they’re supposed to do and gets hit with an unexpected markup later in the process.

  • Michael__K

    So what would you do with the administrative fee if a judge found the renter innocent and dismissed the ticket?

  • Helio

    I believe everybody agrees that will be almost impossible to make the municipality pays for its error. therefore, the “fee” (or the research expense) must be paid for the company or for the OP.

    In this case, OP was the primary responsible for all the chain of problems. Even paying the fine, she started it by parking in a wrong place.

  • Mark Carrara

    Then they could charge a fee to process the paperwork saying you paid the fine

  • EdB

    Just because you can’t get one party to pay doesn’t mean you can, or should, charge someone else for it. Let’s change the scenario just a bit. Let say, when giving a ticket, they put the wrong license number down and it matched the one on the renter’s car. Now the renter didn’t do anything wrong but budget still had to research it and say they were able to show it was a mistake. Would it be right for budget to charge the person who rented the car? The basic situation is the same in each case. The municipality makes the mistake and that mistake is between budget and the municipality. Why should the renter be punished for it?

  • John Baker

    I’m pretty sure that the renter can file a claim against the municipality for the amount since its directly related to ticket that was issued in err.

    Ultimately, why should the rental car company bare the cost for the renters action / inaction?

  • EdB

    But it’s not the renter’s fault that someone else’s mistake caused budget to have to do the work. So why should the renter have to pay? Now remember, we are talking about the hypothetical situation I posed earlier and it may or may not be applicable to the OP.

  • Mark Carrara

    I think there is a fundamental disagreement here about business. In the past such an administrative fee would be rolled into the cost of doing business Businesses set prices based on two factors, what the market would bear and what it costs to make a product or service, all of the costs. Things change. Now instead of hiding all of the fees and costs in a single price businesses are telling you that here is what it costs us to provide a product. If done openly and above board, this system is fair. You only pay for what you want or need. Not everyone likes this new system, but it is not going away. You can rant and rave and scream at the top of your lungs and it is still not going away.

    I’m sure Chris knows that, but he continues to tilt with windmills. I wish he would not waste his valuable time on cases like this and use it on true scams, there are still plenty of them out there.

  • Lindabator

    WHO is at fault – the renter got the ticket, did not let the car company know, and then when they were notified, had to research back to figure out who it belonged to – clearly the renter’s fault

  • Lindabator

    But everyone wants the RENTAL as cheap as possible, so to keep the cost down, they ONLY charge these fees when the instance comes up, rather than rolling it into EVERYONE’S rental fees.

  • Lindabator

    It is THEIR car – and it probably was paid after the info went out, so got crossed

  • Lindabator

    No, you miss the point – she failed to let Budget know, obviously did not pay promptly, and now you want someone to have to do this research for free.

  • Lindabator

    So make someone who did NOT have the accident pay??? WOW!

  • EdB

    See, you are missing the point. In the hypothetical situation I originally presented, Budget was notified in error by the municipality. Yes, the renter made an error and paid for it. Then, separate from the original error by the renter, the municipality creates another error. Don’t try applying the hypothetical scenario I presented to the OP. We don’t know if it applies.

  • EdB

    In the hypothetical scenario I presented, the municipality is at fault for sending a notification that should not have been sent.

  • Lindabator

    No, you still miss the point – doesn’t matter WHY the municipality sent the information over — the minute they DID, SOMEONE has to investigate, and the client has to pay. End of story. (Look at the terms and conditions – quite clearly stated).

  • EdB

    That is exactly what I am not saying. Read that first line again…

    “Just because you can’t get one party to pay doesn’t mean you can, or should, charge someone else for it.”

    If you can’t make the person who caused the error to pay, you shouldn’t charge someone else. In the hypothetical scenario I presented in my first post, the error I have been discussing is an error by the municipality, not the renter.

  • Lindabator

    Again – SO WHAT! The fact that they DID send in means Budget must investigate, and that costs money. The client is responsible for ANY fees associated with tickets/accidents, so doesn’t change the fact that the municipality/Budget did not have the accident – SHE DID!

  • EdB


    If you cannot comment on just the situation I presented, don’t comment. Don’t comment out of the context the question was presented in.

  • EdB

    What accident are you talking about? There was no accident. In the OP’s situation, it was a parking infraction. And in the hypothetical scenario I presented, it is a clear case of the municipality making an error. Stop trying to drag this out of context.

  • Miami510

    Some years ago, I was driving north to New England and went over Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. As I paid cash to the attendant, I mentioned to my wife that $15.00 was the most
    expensive bridge toll I’ve ever paid. We returned via a different route when driving back to Florida and many weeks later I received a summons for $65.00. $15.00 for the toll and $50.00 fine for not paying it.

    I wrote a letter explaining their error and asked them to check their cameras to see if it showed my car and my handing a payment over to the attendant. To intimidate them, I
    indicated a copy was being sent to the New Jersey Attorney General and a friend
    in New Jersey who is an attorney. I never mailed the copies.

    Weeks later I received a form letter which showed the $65 billed amount, a credit for $65. and a zero balance.

    From that time on, I always ask for a receipt when paying cash… at toll booths, parking garages where one pays a machine when leaving, or even parking lots where one pays first.

  • Michael__K

    I’m extremely skeptical about the prospects of such a suit, not to mention it would cost far more than $30 to bring the case, and not to mention the renter is in no position to verify what the notice to the rental company said, whether that notice justified the research which was performed, and whether the research truly cost $30. If you really want to go the lawsuit route, why doesn’t the rental company sue the municipality in that scenario?

    Ordinary citizens (including car owners) sometimes get bogus notices and have to invest their time and energy to clear those up. I’ve never heard of an ordinary citizen getting paid an administrative fee for their time and effort to clear up a municipal bureaucracy’s mistake. It’s just an occasional and inconvenient cost of living in a society with rules and regulations. Why should rental companies be different?

  • Lindabator

    Which has nothing to do with this case, so ???????


    My spouse received a parking ticket in St. Louis. It was a legitimate ticket and my husband would have been surprised if he did not get one. (Realized that a ticket was less expensive than the parking charge at the garage closest to his meeting). He left the meeting and went straight to pay the ticket. Three months later the car company billed him a fee for the ticket. The car company responded in writing that they did not care if he had paid the ticket, the charge was for getting the ticket in the first place. The rental company acknowledged that the information they received showed that the ticket was issued and paid the same day. No research but they still charged the fee. AMEX upheld our dispute and we have never rented from that company again.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s not how it works.

    Suppose 5000sf are sufficient to run Hertz’s day to day operations. But because Hertz needs to research tickets because people don’t pay them, Hertz may estimate that it needs 6000sfand pays for the additional 1000sf. As does the additional IT support, computers, pens, paper, stamps, etc., all of which could be avoided if people paid their tickets.

    Thus it’s still an additional cost that is being imposed.

    And yes, it is an estimate, maybe even an overestimate, I have no idea, but a flat fee is generally reasonable as it gives notice to the renter what they are on the hook for, rather than the cost in calculating the specific costs each time.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I just signed a retainer with outside counsel. He charges 4% on top of the fee for just those items. Large Law firms charge a photocopy fee, which is quite expensive.

    I do agree though that fees should always be disclosed so that the customer is never surprised.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Agreed. In a fight between perception and actual money out of my pocket, I choose perception.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The renter could not file a claim under those circumstances.

  • EdB

    How do you know it doesn’t apply? I was asking about justification of the administration fee in a specific scenario. We don’t know if the OP reported it to budget. That wasn’t disclosed in the story. We don’t know how long after getting the ticket, it was paid. That wasn’t disclosed in the story. We don’t know if the notification was sent in error or if it was just a courtesy notification that there was a citation and it was resolved. That wasn’t disclosed in the story.

    Did my question have anything to do with the case? No, but in the situation in general, dealing with a specific set of circumstances that may or may not apply to the OP’s case. You are the one trying to tie my question into the story, not me. My question was if the administration fee should be charged to the renter when a mistake is made by a third party.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    In all fairness, my company used an outside contractor several states away to process these things. People would come and tell me they got tickets, and the only thing I could do would be to advise people pay them and then keep proof of payment in case of an overlap. There was nothing I could do in our rental application that would have stopped us from paying for the ticket, or having to do research.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The claim idea is a nonstarter.

    But as to your second question, generally expecting a business to operate the same was a private citizen does is pointless. Business are for profit enterprises and must act accordingly, with the bounds of good taste and ethics.

    The renter signed a contract and this is not unethical, unconscionable, etc. It’s perfectly reasonable

    If the papers crossed in the mail, then the renter is SOL, although I think that Budget ought to waive the fee.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The logic is flawed. In the real scenario, the LW started the unfortunate chain of events by parking illegally. In the hypo, this third party is unrelated to this incident and cannot be charged regardless.

  • Michael__K

    If trends and/or growth dictate that they need 20% more space, then I would think they’re collecting at least 20% more in fees. And I would expect the costs per square foot to go down as the number of square feet go up (economies of scale).

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Neither here not there.

    If you lease say 20% more space, any discount will be less than 20%, and probably minimal. Any how you slice it, 6000sf will have a total cost of more than 5000sf from the same landlord. So perhaps the cost is 10% more, not 20%.

    It’s still an additional cost incurred because of the bad behavior of some renters.

    Plus, there is no reason to believe that its from the same landlord. It might be located elsewhere.

  • Michael__K

    If there are x% more cases then that cost should already be covered by billing x% more administrative fees.

    And that doesn’t necessarily reflect more bad behavior. It could simply reflect normal business growth (and a few false alarm notices like the OP’s).

    Of course the square footage probably doesn’t fluctuate from day-to-day like the case load presumably does. Once they’ve established their capacity for the day/week/month/quarter, then the costs we’re discussing are pretty much set for that day/week/month/quarter.

  • EdB

    In the hypothetical, the renter becomes the 3rd party because the error made by the municipality, while may have been based on an incident by the renter, is a separate error not caused by the renter.

    Even in the original story, we don’t have enough information to determine if this hypothetical situation would apply and I am not trying to say it does.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    The assumption everyone is making is that the OP did not pay the ticket quickly enough to avoid notification to Budget. In your case, your husband could not have paid that ticket more quickly (paid on same day, within hours of receipt) – and the rental company still got notified!

    Kind of makes the argument moot that the OP didn’t pay quickly enough.

  • MarkKelling

    I recently went onto a toll road with a rental car when I didn’t mean to. The total bill from the rental company for this was $8. Which was $3 for the toll and $5 for an administrative fee. I thought that was OK considering the fine for driving on that toll road without a transponder is $500.

    It is unfortunate the OP got charged. But this is not a scam. It takes time to research the ticket and the OP did do something that caused a ticket to be issued. $30 does sound high, but it is one of the costs of renting a car.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    You’re not understanding what I am saying

    I’m saying the normal day to day operation would require a certain amount of resources. But, because of certain bad behaviors of customers, a business is required to expend additional resources. Those additional resources are properly charged to the customers who cause the business to expend these additional resources.

    A perfect example is a loss mitigation department, e.g. unpaid bounced checks. If a bank rolled those costs into the cost of doing business then all customers would pay for the additional costs of a loss mitigation department.

    I submit that the costs associated with such a department should be borne by those customers who caused the additional costs. Neither the shareholders, not other customers should have to pay for “so and so’s” bounced check.

    I submit that the administrative costs associated with processing ticket notifications of rental car customers fall in the same category. Other customers who don’t park illegal should not bear these additional costs.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The LW can never be analogized to the hypothetical renter because the hypothetical renter is truly unrelated to the incident, a scenario which is fundamentally different from LW’s situation.

  • jim6555

    Being a large fleet operator, Budget could have an arrangement to receive courtesy notices from the City of Long Beach whenever a fine on one of their vehices had been paid. They may have taken the information from the notice and billed the customer for this “research”. I don’t put anything past them. For many reasons, I consider rental car companies to be unscrupulous bottom feeders who will do anything to make extra profit.

  • EdB

    I wasn’t trying to equate my question to be the same situation as the OP’s, just another possible scenario where an administrative fee might not be justified based on a similar situation. Renter gets ticket and pays. Municipality is not suppose to send a notification but erroneously does. The municipality’s error was not caused by the renter, so while Budget does have costs associated with the research, it was because of the erroneous notice, not the renter’s parking violation. In a case like this, I don’t think charging the renter is justifiable.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Ok. What about the other 10,000 municipalities in the US?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Fair point. But the question that I answered earlier, who should pay?

  • Michael__K

    No, I’m saying the administrative fee should already pay for all the additional resources you cite. The more bad behavior the more administrative fees are billed.

    I agree that neither shareholders nor other customers should have to pay for “so and so’s” bounced check. But the reality is that in some cases the bounced check fee will prove uncollectible.

    And I bet that the other customers who bounce checks (from whom the fee is collectible) end up paying for the bad behaviors of those individuals whose fees could not be collected.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Now I’m confused.

    So what exactly are you disagreeing with in my statements?

  • TonyA_says

    I voted NO. Here’s why.
    Suppose I rent a car in Long Beach, CA and get a parking ticket (citation posted in my windshield). My rental agreement includes the following provisions:

    Use of the Vehicle

    7.2 You must pay for any unauthorized repairs to the Vehicle and for all parking and traffic infringements in respect of the Vehicle during the Rental Period.


    14.1 At the end of the Rental Period, You must pay Us on demand:

    A. all charges specified on the Rental Document and all charges payable under the Agreement;

    B. any amount paid or payable by Us or You to any person arising out of Your use of the Vehicle or imposed on You or Us by any governmental or other competent authority (such as speeding, parking and traffic fines); and

    C. any amount for which You are liable to Us under the Agreement, in respect of a breach of the Agreement or otherwise.

    So if I don’t pay Budget for the parking violation fee or do not tell Budget I already settled the fee directly with the City of Long Beach (giving them a copy of the invoice); then Budget will have no idea what happened and may receive a citation by mail.

    According to the Long Beach City Auditor, they mail the Registered Owner a notice 7 to 21 days after the citation is uploaded to their computer system. Obviously Budget got one of these notices for the LW’s parking violation and Budget forwarded this to its outsourced processor since Budget received no information from the LW that he paid the ticket.

    It is not the responsibility of Long Beach City to tell Budget that someone already paid the bill. It is the responsibility of the renter to tell Budget they paid the bill so that Budget can interrupt the process of sending all citation notices to its processor. Hence, the fee.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Lots of work, thank you! I wonder if Budget would have still charged the $30 even if notified, since there would have to be some manual work matching the OP’s name and notification to something received 5 to 21 days later. Seems like there would still have to be some work on Budget’s (or any other car rental agency’s) part. Might explain why FQTVLR got billed, too, in a different city with a different agency.

  • Michael__K

    Maybe I should call these “quibbles” or “caveats” as opposed to fundamental disagreements:

    1) The significant costs you cited (like real estate, personnel, computers) that vary according to “bad behavior” have to be set in advance, for some non-trivial length of time, based on forecasts. Regardless of whether there is more bad behavior or less bad behavior than expected, those costs are fixed in the short run.

    In fact, less bad customer behavior than forecasted is not necessarily desirable from the company’s perspective– the cost commitments were already made and less bad behavior means less fee revenue to cover those commitments. More bad behavior than forecasted is not necessarily a bad thing — if the workers can skimp on other tasks (like taking longer to call back customers) to compensate, then more bad behavior can be profitable.

    2) Regarding:
    Who should pay for these additional man and machine resources? There are three possibilities…

    I submit there’s a fourth possibility (or call it a variation on you “Budget’s customers” option) — the rental company knows that some of the billed admin fees won’t stick. I bet that it’s the other billed customers (for whom the fee does stick) who pay for that.

  • Annie M

    That is all fine and good but Budget needs to have that on the rental agreement. Who thinks to go online and read an agreement? It should be given in writing in the agreement handed to the customer. I can’t recall is it is in a contract or not.

    But in this case, Budget should waive the fee for the client and I think this is one Chris SHOULD take up to try and get waived. And the City should have also advised the client to let the car rental company know about the ticket being paid – perhaps if she had shown Budget proof of the payment they wouldn’t have charged her.

  • TonyA_says

    I will make a huge guess here.
    It depends on how the system is programmed.
    Suppose Budget uses ATS Processing Systems rentalcarticket dotcom.
    I assume the mailed notices will be entered into the system with the citation # as one of the cross-referenced (key) fields.
    If Budget has the ability to key in that a customer has paid the citation, then the process can be interrupted.
    But ATS has this in their FAQ:

    Question: I already paid the parking citation directly to the Issuing Authority or the Rental Car Company?

    Answer: You may be eligible for a refund if you paid
    the parking ticket prior to the due date stated on the citation that
    was left on the rental vehicle. In order to start the refund request
    process, please visit the dispute page on rentalcarticket dotcom
    and fill out the dispute page as well as provide/upload
    proof-of-payment made to the Issuing Authority. Valid proof includes a
    receipt, a bank statement, or the front and back of your canceled check.
    Upon receipt and verification we will be able to credit your
    outstanding balance if sufficient proof is provided. Please refer to the
    fax number on the front of this notice if you do not have the ability
    to upload your documents.

    So I think it is best you pay the violation immediately and prevent the city from mailing a citation to the Registered Owner. In Long Beach City, that is less than 7 days.

    I got a parking violation in NYC for $110-120 and I paid it as soon as I drove home (online credit card). City didn’t have to mail me anything.
    Mailing a check will only delay the process.

  • TonyA_says

    Imagine the process.
    City mails citation to Budget. (it does not contain renter information).
    Budget (or its processor) has to search Budget’s rental’s database to identify the Renter, his credit card, etc.
    Then further research has to be done to check with the City or DMV before payment of the fine will be done by budget.
    Only at this point will the processor know the violation was paid by the OP.

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s a excellent article:
    bit dot ly/1mbZlDt

  • bodega3

    Seriously? It seems like everyone but the husband who parked where he wasn’t suppose to park is being blamed. He screwed up and there are fees involved in that.

  • bodega3

    Yes, it is the renter’s fault, plain and simple. If he hadn’t parked the car illegally, none of what came afterwards would have happened.

  • Michael__K

    My experience (with a toll*) was consistent with @thoroughlyamused’s. Even if you DO tell the rental agent either that you already settled the fee and have documentation or that you would like to pay the rental company directly, the agent won’t have any idea what to do next.

    They’ll probably refer you to their manager, who will probably explain that this is handled by outside vendors at multiple locations — and you can’t directly contact them or even know which location to contact until you already receive a notice from them in the mail with a citation number.

    If you don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and you diligently, and persistently pursue the matter by phone and by email, I found that it is possible to eventually reach someone who could help. However, it literally took over a month for me to get to that point.

    (*)This was regarding a toll, for an Avis rental. The people I ultimately needed to speak to were under Avis Budget Group Inc., which handles these matters for both companies.

  • TonyA_says

    The default scenario is what you both suggested. Fees will be charged to the renter’s credit card. Some FAQs say so. I think that is the most efficient way to handle things.

    The only way I think the OP could have interrupted the process was to have paid the citation IMMEDIATELY so that the city did not have to mail the notice to budget.

    ADDED: If the OP could not prevent the City sending Budget a notice, then he has no option but to make the usual process work, It’s just the way that World works.

  • flutiefan

    How is my analogy flawed? He didn’t HAVE to rent a car. And @thoroughlyamused says the rest for me…

  • Thoroughlyamused

    What a lot of people are missing here is that the $30 fee is NOT designed to be a money maker and it is NOT meant to punish people who are proactive in taking care of their tickets, like the OP (I realize I’m giving the OP the benefit of the doubt because we don’t have the actual timeframe of when the ticket was paid). Let’s be honest, it doesn’t take $30 to receive a citation, figure out who was driving and bill out the citation.

    The purpose of the $30 fee is to dissuade renters from blowing through multiple toll booths without a transponder or parking wherever the hell they want and just throwing the ticket to the side, assuming the rental company will deal with it. THAT costs money, and since these charges come in often long after the car is returned, are more prone to chargeback situations. And because some renters simply don’t feel like paying for their tolls (see the guy in my story below), chargebacks are frequent, which drives costs up for everyone.

    Citations can be issued in error when the motorist has done nothing wrong. Google photo enforcement scam and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And parking enforcement officers, whose jobs are often outsourced to 3rd party companies (like in Montgomery County), have quotas to meet and are known to occasionally issue citations in error.

    If renters aren’t proactive at all in dealing with these issues and just wait for the ticket to hit the rental company, they deserve to be charged the $30. If someone knowingly drives on a cashless toll road with no transponder when they know better, they deserve to be charged $30. I’m sorry, but someone who receives a parking ticket and immediately pays it should NOT have to pay an extra $30 simply because they happened to be driving a rental car at the time.

  • EdB

    Sigh. Okay, last time. I am not talking about the LW situation, but a hypothetical situation where the renter did have a citation but paid it so the municipality would not send a notice. However, because of a mistake by the municipality, a notice got sent in error. This is not the renter’s fault but you feel they should pay for someone else’s error?

  • bodega3

    The error was in getting the ticket in the first place. I understand what you are saying, but the car company still had to take time to figure it out, so if all this crossed in the mail, it is what it is. The renter pays unless the car company waives it, which in this case, isn’t going to.

  • EdB

    Why does everyone keep reading things in that are not being said. In the hypothetical scenario I am talking about, there should have been nothing in the mail, let alone crossing. In the case I presented, the rental company should never have been notified, but because of an error on the municipality part, the agency gets notified. There are two errors being discussed, but the one by the municipality is not caused by the renter. The renter made an error and corrected it. Then the municipality makes a mistake, but it wasn’t because the renter made a mistake. It is because someone in the municipality made a mistake. Now if you still think the renter should have to pay for a mistake they didn’t make, then we will just have to disagree on that.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Regardless of whether there is more bad behavior or less bad behavior than expected, those costs are fixed in the short run.

    Not if you use a staffing agency, short term overflow rentals, and other outside contract services.

    In fact, less bad customer behavior than forecasted is not necessarily desirable from the company’s perspective– the cost commitments were already made and less bad behavior means less fee revenue to cover those commitments.

    See above.

    More bad behavior than forecast is not necessarily a bad thing

    Can be, e.g. bank overdraft fees. But in general that’s not true, especially if the operation is not particularly scalable

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Payments tend to be credited promptly because they are time sensitive. The fine increases with time.

  • Chris Johnson

    It takes $30 worth of an employee’s time to investigate and make sure the ticket was paid? With the way things are now, some low-level office grunt could probably verify that the ticket had been paid in minutes just by looking on the internet, or made a quick phone call. The $30 fee is just another
    money-grab from the car rental companies.
    Perhaps if the fee/penalty had been $5 or something, I would have felt differently.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I understand but if you look at the various post below, you realize it takes a fair amount of time because it not just a simple phone call. The employee also has to determine which renter incurred the cost, information which is not on the ticket. Plus, its not just the employee but all the associated costs including the infrastructure, employees, housing, IT, etc., that is being paid for.

    And there is the element to discourage people from letting tickets lag. It worked for me as I paid my ticket within 24 hours just to ensure that I didn’t have to pay an administrative fee on top of the ticket cost.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Don’t break the law in a rental car and if you do, pay your own friggin tickets. Don’t wait forever hoping the tickets/toll slips through the cracks. If you do that you deserve to be charged the $30.

  • Michael__K

    I’m certain they use outside vendors, which can make them a little bit more nimble (e.g. when capacity adjustments by other clients of the same vendor happen to be counter-cyclical with the rental company’s adjustments). But that doesn’t fundamentally eliminate those dynamics.

    I have every reason to believe that the operation is scalable. There are economies of scale here; not diminishing returns.

  • omgstfualready

    I think to read an agreement before I sign it, which is why I stated I remember seeing that the last time I rented a vehicle. To do otherwise is naive and irresponsible. The vendor should not waive the fee that the customer agreed to be held to because the customer was lazy.

  • bodega3

    I am guessing that you don’t own a business. I think $30 is a reasonable fee for a business to receive a bill, verify their records and send out notification to the renter. If you don’t like the fee, then don’t get a ticket!

  • PolishKnightUSA

    And this is what it’s coming to… having to make an Ebenezer Scrooge long paper trail when you rent a car to avoid being accused of something you didn’t do.

    1) Walk around the car and inspect for dents and scratches and note on the form. Then climb up to make sure nothing is on the roof. Then get a flashlight and go under the car to make sure nothing is wrong down there. Take photos of everything, then email them to yourself with a timestamp. Make sure the rental agency accepts your signoff form. Insist upon a copy for yourself.
    2) Open the hood. Do you want them to claim you busted something on the road? Check the oil and radiator fluid.

    3) Get copies of receipts for everything. Hold onto them for at least 6 months in case they come after you.

    4) Returning the car, have the person receiving the car follow you on an inspection. If they decide to crash it themselves in the garage, they can blame you. Get a full signoff of a full inspection.
    5) You’ll no doubt encounter resistance from the various employees who are used to 5 minute inspections and signoffs (especially if there is 50 person line of people waiting to get checked in on Monday morning.) You’ll have to be forceful.

    Yikes, this makes going to the Dentist’s office seem like fun by comparison.

    Or you can just do the minimum and pray you’re not a victim.

    Me? I avoid renting a car whenever possible. Take the bus. Get a taxi. Or get a hotel near where you need to be.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I wonder if getting the rental company’s insurance made the difference. Did they let the toll charge (+small admin fee) slide because you had their insurance?

    I suppose it depends upon how long I have the car. If it’s for one day and I’m facing bad roads and weather, then getting the comprehensive/damage coverage makes sense for an extra 20 or so. Any damage they’ll wind up having to foot which means they won’t bother claiming it (they’ll stick it on the next sucker who doesn’t get their insurance.)

    But for a week or more, AMEX lets me pay $20 flat and I have AMEX on my side which is why many vendors hate them. Simultaneously, if a business doesn’t take AMEX, especially a rental company, my eyebrows go up. They probably annoyed AMEX enough that they got dropped. I move on.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Most agreements you see when you rent a vehicle aren’t really the WHOLE agreement. They’ll say something such as “customer agrees to rental agreement terms as per on file” and don’t forget (not the fine print) but:


    Usually there’ll be a whole law book printed on the back, in fine print, referred to by the front.

    This is why I have to give credit to the commies who are into government regulation. At least that way, it’s consistent rather than making you have to read through a latin manuscript with every significant transaction.

  • Miami510

    I’m with PolishKnight… taxis or trains. Travel is stressful enough without having to have eyes in your backside.

    The last few times I’ve rented a car at a major, busy airport, they gave me the paperwork, and indicated the car was at a specific location in the garage. When I got to the garage, the procedure was to drive to car to the gate where the attendant checked the paperwork and allowed me to leave. The rental agent didn’t go into the garage and the gate operator is just there to check that the correct car is leaving. Only then did I realize that the papers were all signed (and the condition acknowledged by me) was in the office… before I got to the car.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    “They probably annoyed AMEX enough that they got dropped.”

    Or they got tired of losing money because customers filed chargebacks because they wanted a silver car and got a red car. I had multiple rental car customers argue with me that they should not have to pay for the rental for this exact reason.

    I just don’t get it. I charge thousands on my Southwest Visa card every month, pay it off in full every month, and have had the card for over 5 years. I rent cars, jetskis, purchase expensive electronics, and all kinds of other purchases. You wanna know how many chargebacks I’ve filed since I got the card? ZERO.

    I seriously question the judgement and integrity of people who claim to file chargebacks for multiple things frequently. Either their judgement is terrible because they frequently patronize sketchy businesses who rip them off again and again, or they incur charges for things like blowing through a toll booth when they know a transponder is required, get billed later, and then simply don’t feel like paying. I know multiple small business owners who simply don’t accept AMEX for this very reason. I rent jet skis fairly frequently and the guy only accepts VISA/MC. He’s been in business for 15+ years, has great Yelp reviews and a loyal following in the community. When I asked him about why he didn’t accept AMEX, he said that in addition to the higher processing fees that he had issues in the past with renters damaging his jet skis and then AMEX not honoring charges because the renters refused to sign any kind of damage report. So essentially, what AMEX was telling renters was, “Go ahead and damage someone else’s property, but if you don’t want to pay, don’t worry-just don’t sign the damage report and we’ll make sure you don’t pay a dime.”

  • davidnesbit

    This is the biggest SCAM l have ever read about! If the customer receives a parking fine (whilst driving a hire car) and pays it, in full before the due date then that is it. The situation is resolved and no other charges ought to apply.
    To say the hire company must enforce a research charge is totally unconscionable.
    There is no debt or liability for the hire car company and, even if the company “thought” that there was in such situations then it is beholden upon the company to set up its own business processes without recourse to customer.
    This is a SCAM…
    Don’t rent from Budget, use a reputable company like Hertz as l do and l have never had such issues occur, as outlined by Chris.

  • Californi Cato

    Parking tickets usually work like this: you don’t pay within the allotted time and you get a reminder in the mail. You pay, you don’t get the reminder.

    I paid the parking ticket well within the allotted time.

    I’m sure if Budget gets a ticket reminder in the mail, their army of psychics could magically figure out who had rented the car then.

  • Chris Johnson

    That’s not what happened here. The OP did pay the ticket.

    I pay my own friggin tickets, regardless of what car I was driving.

  • TMMao

    With photo radar, traffic light cameras, and now parking enforcement vehicles with cameras, it could be months before the full cost of the rental is settled.

  • innchfromnj

    Heavy traffic caused me to get stuck in an EZ Pass lane for an East River Bridge in NYC..I had no choice but to go thru the EZ Pass lane.
    Given that this was a rental car, I wanted to resolve this quickly.
    I found where to call the toll Authority and gave them the plate number and description of the car. They took the toll payment right over the phone using my check card.
    The woman could not tell me whether or not a citation had been generated by the EZ Pass toll evader system. She told me to hang on to the receipt which TBTA emailed to me.
    I then called the rental company to let them know I had paid the toll.
    I never heard a word about it. No charge ever appeared on my credit card for any citation or fee. BTW, this was in 2002

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.